Herb grower Jekka Mcvicar

Country Homes & Interiors - - MODERN COUNTRY -

Herb grower Jekka Mcvicar never tires of RHS Gar­den Rose­moor

hen I gaze at the herb gar­den at Rose­moor in Devon, there is no doubt that this is the view that beats all oth­ers. It’s my lo­cal RHS gar­den, and I’ve been vis­it­ing it for years. There are so many won­der­ful plant­ing com­bi­na­tions that stop you dead in your tracks. I like see­ing dif­fer­ent ones that I haven’t thought of us­ing. In my gar­den, I love us­ing red-leaved herbs, which makes the green look ‘greener’. What I love most about Rose­moor is the space and how noth­ing feels cramped or packed in. You can wan­der from the roses into the herb gar­den, then down to the kitchen gar­den. In sum­mer, they have a won­der­ful dis­play of le­mon berg­amot, which is ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful, and there is also a lovely thyme bed. It never feels like work go­ing there.

WNow is the best time of year to en­joy a herb gar­den. The laven­der is in flower, as are thyme and rose­mary, oregano and sage. Herbs in the Lami­aceae fam­ily, which in­cludes thyme, sage, oregano, basil, rose­mary, laven­der and mint, are my favourites.

Herbs are a pas­sion and a way of life for me. One of the best things you can do in a herb gar­den is just sit down, breathe in all the aro­mas and lis­ten to the buzzing of the bees. Herb gar­dens should be de­signed so that you can sit in them. Peo­ple have done this since an­cient times. We have lost a sense of peace­ful­ness in to­day’s so­ci­ety and we need to get it back – it will help our well­be­ing more than any­thing.

I first be­came in­ter­ested in herbs through cook­ing. When I go out to my herb gar­den in sum­mer, I’m looking for herbs to snip and add to sal­ads. They are such ver­sa­tile in­gre­di­ents, and just a small amount of leaves will trans­form a salad into some­thing spe­cial. I love adding fresh herbs to dress­ings, too, par­tic­u­larly basil or mint. And I use oregano in my pizza dough or scat­ter thyme on top.

I was thrilled and hon­oured to have been ap­pointed an RHS am­bas­sador ear­lier this year. I’ve asked for a flag to put on my delivery van! Peo­ple don’t re­alise how much plants give us and how they re­ally en­hance our lives. There’s some­thing about gar­den­ing that makes me so happy. I also be­lieve you can help your­self to keep well by us­ing plants. I make rose­mary tea, as it’s been proven to help stim­u­late mem­ory – just a 2cm sprig added to a cup of boil­ing wa­ter and left to stand for five min­utes, then strained. When I have a lot on and I’m try­ing to re­mem­ber things, rose­mary tea is amaz­ing at help­ing. The smell alone clears the head and it’s re­ally good, too, for lift­ing your mood.

RHS Gar­den Rose­moor, Jekka’s Herb Farm, jekkasherb­ Jekka cre­ated a show gar­den for St John’s Hospice at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show; stjohn­shos­

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